(By Loyd Ford) So many people feel like the best salespeople are those people who are outgoing, smile a lot, laugh and talk a lot. I’ve never believed it. The best salespeople are active listeners. People buy things from people who listen to them. We are in a business where we like to do most of the talking.
According to Wikipedia, “Active listening is a technique that is used in counseling, training, and solving disputes or conflicts. It requires that the listener fully concentrate, understand, respond and then remember what is being said.”
But this article isn’t about salespeople in the traditional sense. It’s about morning show talent. How can being good at active listening help grow your opportunity to grow a more loyal audience as a morning show talent? After all, morning show talent are performers, right? Well, so are great salespeople. Here are some thoughts about fully developing the extra skills in the area of active listening that could bring your morning show to the real next level.
- Mornings on radio is about developing a relationship with your audience. For us, that usually means being able to talk with a listener that represents others listening and show that we understand and can entertain both. These opportunities probably happen to most morning shows on average of twice per hour if they have a very active morning show. Why is this so important? Because being able to do this well will drive more intense loyalty among important listener groups in your audience.
- Fully developing your morning show often means becoming an expert in active listening and carrying with you a fully developed vision and plan for your morning show. Nothing replaces excellent planning and vision for entertaining. Becoming an expert in active listening is a next level skill that can give you an amazing advantage over your competitors. You can only do this best by having great prep and an overflow of content so you be more focused on listeners during real time performance on-air.
- Being good at identifying moments with listeners that represent connection opportunities and slowing your role so you can fully take advantage of the moment is critical in putting your morning show in a class all by itself. Most morning shows are using listeners for ‘bits.’ This is completely different than looking for opportunities to connect with listeners that represent potentially large pools of like listeners that could be critical in creating a larger and more loyal following for your morning show. Some of the best active listeners (like Oprah and Howard Stern) could give master classes in being so prepared in advance they can be comfortable focusing most of their attention on listening to their guests. What are you doing that says, “I am listening to you and hear you?”
- Morning shows could often get to the pivot earlier. Many morning shows focus on how great their role is in making audience laugh or manufacturing a great bit. This is clear when they never turn to audience input. Instead, it is often more powerful to develop your content so you pivot to individual listener and audience opinion or input earlier. The faster you do this in a bit, the more likely it is to hit home and spread impact. This goes back to active listening and looking for ways to let listeners in the performance lane. Let them see that they are important to you.
- We need to think about developing those relationships every day during the morning show because that is how we will sell our performances as significantly better than those we compete with for audience. Believe me, where radio is going….loyalty will be critical to your success in the future.
Radio personalities and those responsible for encouraging them probably don’t talk enough about active listening skills and becoming an expert in listening (as opposed to performing). We spend most of our time focused on survival (or short-term goals). Imagine if we worked on skills related directly to identifying listeners that represent like listeners and entertaining both by engaging their opinions and participation earlier in on-air performances.
The best salespeople in our business could be on the morning show. If you are a talent in today’s busy world, don’t underestimate how much people want to be heard. Give them a place on radio where they can depend on this and you will grow.
Loyd Ford consults radio stations, coaches personalities, and provides behavioral and strategic programming to radio with RPC. Reach him anytime. 864.448.4169 or [email protected]